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23 hours ago
By motogp.com

Can MotoGP™ reach cloud nine at MotorLand?

After eight different riders on the top step so far, 2020 is on the verge of equalling an all-time record. So who's next in line?

Eight winners in eight races, and eight so far, is quite a stat. So as the paddock returns to MotorLand Aragon for the Gran Premio Liqui Moly de Teruel, there's one obvious question: can 2020 equal the record of nine? Set in 2016, it's the most premier class winners we've ever had... and now we're one away, with a few candidates still waiting in the wings to take to the top step.

The second Aragon operation: Mission Teruel

The first must be Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The number 36 is now the Championship leader despite not yet winning, having shown incredible consistency to take podium after podium. He wasn't quite able to replicate the late pace of teammate Alex Rins in the Aragon GP - with Rins becoming the eighth different winner after a stunner on Sunday from tenth on the grid - but it would be hard to bet against the Mayorcan moving forward second time around at MotorLand. That would bring him even closer to the top step. It would be easy to say he'll balance risk vs reward too, but he's said for some time the target is to win a race before it's to focus on the title. Rins will likely be hard to beat once again, though, so could the Teruel GP come down to a Suzuki duel? And can Mir come out on top this time around?

FREE! Last lap of an incredibly tense MotoGP™ race in Aragon

The man who came closest to denying the number 42 last time out was Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), however. The rookie is on an absolute roll taking two second places in a row, and he cut his gap from the winner from just over a second in the wet at Le Mans to just 0.263 at Aragon - in the dry. In a Jaws music-accompanied bit of news for his rivals too, Alex Marquez has been a key improver from once race weekend at the same track to the second. With the deficit he had on Sunday sitting at less than three tenths... can Marquez bring Honda's winless streak to an end and take his first premier class victory? 

Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) is another man who's come close to winning in 2020 but hasn't done it yet, but MotorLand has been a tougher venue for Ducati so far this season. Austrian GP winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was the top Borgo Panigale factory rider on race day last time out and edged out Miller and another man who has known the top step but not in 2020 yet - Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) - but plenty has turned on a dime this season. And what about Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu)? The Japanese rider is fifth overall, only 29 points off Mir, and is the only rider to score in every race. He's also been in the top ten in every race, but has knocked on the door to the podium a few times.

Viñales up for the fight with only favourable circuits left

A new winner is far from guaranteed, however. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) only just missed out on pole and was incredibly close to beating Mir to the podium in the Aragon GP, and he can't be counted out. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) had some solid pace but will want to move forward... and then there's his teammate: Fabio Quartararo.

Despite a crash in FP3 at the Aragon GP that left him a little bruised, then-Championship leader Quartararo snatched pole from Viñales on Saturday and, initially, was up there in the fight. But a tyre pressure problem is what the Frenchman cited as the reason he then went back through the order down to P18, which is his worst finish in MotoGP™ and, in an expensive day in the title chase, outside the points. That gave his three key contenders an open goal and Mir's podium saw him take the lead, Viñales' fourth saw him gain and Dovizioso once again stole back some of the ground he'd lost with his early bad luck in Barcelona. What can Quartararo do back at full power in the Teruel GP? He's the true unknown quantity on the grid, but we're about to find out because he'll be guns blazing to take back to the top.

Motorland Aragon, a memorable title race battleground

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing will also want to move forward into the top ten battle and beyond, with the Austrian factory having a tougher time of it in the Aragon GP to take P11 with rookie Brad Binder as their top finish. His teammate, Pol Espargaro, was right behind him too. The number 44 will want to get back ahead on home turf and with more data, and Binder will want a lot more points this time around as he's now tied on 67 with Alex Marquez in the fight for Rookie of the Year, potentially about to lose out to the Spaniard for the first time in some time. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini's Aleix Espargaro was close behind the two top KTMs too and he'll want to try and flip that in Teruel, as it's a venue he's always had some good form at, as well as a premier class podium.

Another week, another MotoGP™ race... and we already know it'll be another stunner. Will we get that record-equalling winner number nine? Or can the likes of Quartararo, Viñales and Rins reign again? Find out on Sunday at the earlier time of 13:00 (GMT +1).

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